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MIC submits proposals for AIPPA amendments
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
March 21, 2006

THE Media and Information Commission has submitted proposals to the Government for amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to facilitate regulation of distributors of foreign published material meant for public consumption by the commission, MIC chairperson Dr Tafataona Mahoso, said yesterday.

Dr Mahoso told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Communications that AIPPA only provided for the regulation of publishers and was silent on distributors as some of them were distributing subversive material of foreign origin.

He was presenting oral evidence to the committee on the role and functions of the MIC. "It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers and the distributors. Those distributors which import foreign periodicals should indicate where they are procuring such periodicals," Dr Mahoso said. The MIC boss said he imagined what would happen in the event that unknown distributors circulate material hostile to the Government on the eve of a major election. The commission, Dr Mahoso said, had so far registered 86 mass media service providers that included magazines and newsletters with 1 300 journalists having been accredited.

Chairperson of the parliamentary committee Cde Leo Mugabe, who is Makonde MP (Zanu-PF), wanted to know the commissionís position in relation to the registration of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe and Tribune newspaper. Dr Mahoso said he could not comment on the matter as it was sub judice. "As far as the Tribune is concerned, they appealed to the Supreme Court. As far as the ANZ is concerned, the last judgment said we can not touch that. So it is in the courts," he said.

The Tribune Newspaper was suspended from publishing after it failed to inform the MIC on the change of ownership from Ukubambana Kubatana Investments (UKI), which was sold to former legislator Cde Kindness Paradza and management, as required by the law. On the other hand, the ANZ, publishers of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, was banned for operating without a licence.

However, High Court judge Justice Rita Makarau last week set aside the commissionís decision to deny ANZ a licence as a media service provider, meaning that the media organisation can now have their application for registration with MIC considered afresh.

Turning to the issue of voluntary regulation by journalists, Dr Mahoso said the commission would welcome such a development. He said there were perceptions that AIPPA prohibited voluntary regulation by the journalists and this was not true. Dr Mahoso however, said there was need to investigate some journalists who were clandestinely writing news articles for organisations hostile to Zimbabwe such as the Voice of America.

The MIC boss also said some of the emerging unions purporting to represent the interests of journalists were driven by nothing but the love of donor money. The commission, he said, had toured some of the institutions offering journalism studies and would liase with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to find ways of improving the training.

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